The filling of the Grand Renaissance Dam was completed a few days ago as Addis Ababa resumed dialogue with its neighbours Egypt and Sudan on this controversial mega-project.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali recently announced the “successful completion of the fourth and final” filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). This is an important milestone for this hydroelectric megaproject launched in 2011. “The Ethiopians have helped us by working together. Congratulations to all those who took part in the work with their money, their knowledge, their energy and their prayers”, said the Ethiopian prime minister.
Egypt’s reaction was swift, as Cairo condemned this new stage in the project, stating through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it was “Ethiopia’s continued violation of the Declaration of Principles signed between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015. The Declaration of Principles stipulates the need for the three countries to reach agreement on the rules for filling and operating the GERD before beginning the filling process.”
The end of filling comes at a time when Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to resume talks on the GERD. “This approach, and its negative consequences, calls into question the current negotiation process, which must be completed within four months. The next round of negotiations, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, should enable tangible and real progress to be made towards an agreement on the rules for filling and operating the GERD”, stated the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Egypt, which has always reaffirmed its opposition to this mega-project, depends on the Nile for 85% of its water supply. The GERD is being built on the Blue Nile (the Nile’s main tributary), in the regional state of Benishangul-Gumuz. The dam, which is 170 m high and 1.8 km wide, has a reservoir capable of holding 79 billion m3 of water. The dam has already started generating electricity, with the first 375 MW Francis turbine inaugurated in February 2022.
Jean Marie Takouleu